Growing up today is much more different than how it was even 10 years ago. With smartphone and computer technology now being so commonly available and used by most adults, children of all ages are getting online to play, learn and explore. While this is beneficial in many ways, it also presents a whole array of new hazards. It’s important that parents responsibly monitor their children’s internet use and activity, and are aware of what dangers there could be online.
To highlight both the positive and negative uses of technology as well as to explore the role we all play in helping to create a safer online community, Safer Internet Day serves to remind parents, teachers, and lawmakers that working together will help it become a reality.
What is Safer Internet Day?
February 6th, 2018 marked the 8th edition of the campaign which was promoted this year under the theme “Create, connect and share respect: A better internet starts with you”.
The initiative is coordinated by the UK Safer Internet Centre to promote internet safety for both parents and young people alike. It’s supported by over a thousand organisations including schools, government organisations, Premier League football teams, healthcare services and many more. It also brings together a wealth of educational resources, such as this Online Safety Guide, created to mark the campaign, that parents, teachers and childminders can explore.
The centre is the brainchild of several leading youth charities including Young Enterprise, Childnet, Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) and the South West Grid for Learning.
What dangers lurk online?
The internet is a place where responsible creating, connecting and sharing might come as second nature to most of us but when it comes to our children; are we knowledgeable enough to shield them from what could lie behind the click of a button?
Despite the educational benefits of surfing the world wide web, it’s easy for children and youngsters to become unknowingly entangled with inappropriate content, fraudsters and most worryingly, people with hurtful intent.
It’s also part of the parent’s responsibility to get to know what their kids are up to online. According to recent research by Equifax, 80% of UK parents are unaware of their children’s social media activity and less than half of parents realise content can remain online, even after it is deleted from social media. This lack of awareness is a large part of the problem that Safer Internet Day looks to highlight.
1 in 5 parents limit their child’s online time by confiscating smartphones and tablets at bedtime. Although this is a good way of taking responsibility, it’s also vital to Install adequate safety measures such as anti-virus software and parental controls on devices to combat any threats or inappropriate material.
Unfortunately, the reality is that with a multitude of avenues for unsupervised children to access the web – we can’t always be there to steer them from harm’s way.
Given the potential risks of surfing the web, it’s become increasingly important for a dialogue between parents and children to open up around the subject. This is the best way for parents to be aware of what their children are viewing and consuming online, and how children know when a website or user looks risky. An open dialogue is also vital to spotting and preventing any particularly malicious behaviour a child may be suffering through such as cyberbullying or grooming.
The collaborative effort to train adults and kids is a step in the right direction for us all to avoid the pitfalls of the internet. These have essential tips on what not to share on social media, privacy and mobile phone settings and how to deal with cyberbullying.